The king’s Jus­tice/ the Au­gur’s gam­bit

Donaldson duo dif­fer

SFX - - Reviews - Sam Ashurst

re­leased OUT NOW! 128/192 pages | Hard­back/ebook Au­thor stephen donaldson Pub­lisher Gol­lancz

The term “Gor­dian Knot” comes from Alexan­der the Great’s ap­proach to dis­en­tan­gling an im­pos­si­ble knot – he cut it in two. The King’s Jus­tice and The Au­gur’s Gam­bit have ex­pe­ri­enced their own Gor­dian Knot. Pack­aged in the States as one book, they’ve been sep­a­rated for the UK re­lease.

We can see why. The King’s Jus­tice is a ridicu­lously en­joy­able mag­i­cal tale, packed with re­veals we don’t want to spoil here. It fol­lows a man in black – called Black – who ar­rives in a vil­lage to in­ves­ti­gate a mur­der. The

Smart, vi­o­lent and mov­ing, with bril­liant twists

mys­te­ri­ous man’s spe­cial gifts aid him on his quest, but could be used against him… It’s smart, vi­o­lent and mov­ing, with bril­liant twists skil­fully de­liv­ered over the course of its 128 pages.

The Au­gur’s Gam­bit is a longer, more tan­gled affair. As fans of the au­thor will at­test, Stephen Donaldson is an in­cred­i­ble writer, and read­ing Gam­bit di­rectly af­ter Jus­tice high­lights his tal­ent. Fol­low­ing en­trails-read­ing sooth­sayer May­hew Gor­dian as he moves to save a doomed king­dom, it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence: slower, with more com­pli­cated language, and a less like­able lead – mak­ing it tougher to get through. De­spite his bleak ge­nius, Gor­dian’s just not as much fun as Black.

Which brings us to that Knot – these sto­ries don’t flow. We might be re­view­ing them as a dou­ble-bill, but you shouldn’t read them that way. Buy both and read some­thing else in-be­tween, split­ting them into sep­a­rate, re­ward­ing, ex­pe­ri­ences.

As a young man, Donaldson wrote a fan fic­tion novella based on Marvel’s Thor (plus one based on Heart Of Dark­ness).

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